Volume 6, Issue 8 (August, 2002)


Welcome to the Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter.

Here is what you will find in this issue:

1. What's New on the Neuroscience for Kids Web Pages
2. Neuroscience for Kids Page of the Month
3. Society for Neuroscience Committee on Neuroscience Literacy Workshops
4. The Exploratorium (San Francisco, CA)
5. Catnip Repels Cockroaches
6. Media Alert
7. Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia
8. How to Stop Your Subscription


Neuroscience for Kids had several new additions in July. Here are some of them:

A. July Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. October NeuroCalendar
C. The Key to Keeping Your Brain Fit (Even at 90!)
D. Abraham Lincoln and His Little Blue Pills
E. Neuroscience for Kids Bookmarks
F. Synesthesia
G. DEET: Still the Best Mosquito Repellent
H. Caffeine Used to Fight Slugs and Snails
I. GHB Approved to Treat Symptom of Narcolepsy

In July, 29 new figures were added and 85 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Page of the Month" for August is The American Physiological Society (APS) web site "Physiology Learning Cycle Units" at:

The APS has developed several hands-on, inquiry-based physiology lesson plans for middle and high school students. Three units (Neural Networks, Physiology of Exercise, and Physiology of Fitness) are now available and four more units (Cell-ebration, A Kidney Under Pressure, Eye to Eye, and Human Lever Systems) will be ready soon. Each unit is complete with extensive background information, detailed student and teacher guides, and a web-based "Treasure Hunt."


There is still time for K-12 science teachers to register for several workshops at the upcoming Society for Neuroscience meeting in Orlando, FL (November 2-3, 2002). A neuroscience short course for high school students will also be offered on November 4. All of these events are FREE!


(Article by Ellen Kuwana, Neuroscience for Kids Staff Writer)

My family and I recently visited San Francisco, CA. A unique San Francisco attraction is the Exploratorium, the Bay Area's biggest science museum. The Exploratorium's hands-on exhibits are sure to keep your attention -- in fact, the museum is so fun that you may not realize that you are learning about science.

I was worried that the exhibits would not be interesting to my just-turned-two-year-old. I shouldn't have worried. The Exploratorium is not the type of museum where you have to be quiet or stay still. The Exploratorium is essentially a big warehouse, with cement floors to run on and all sorts of exhibits to play with. Who can resist huge pools of soapy water for making bubbles? Or looking at the image of your hand reflected in water? Or changing a strobe light on streams of water? Or floating objects on a stream of air? The Exploratorium offers something for everyone -- old and young alike. There are things to touch, see, move; illusions to trick your brain; objects to tickle your senses.

Vision is explored thoroughly in a current exhibit called "SEEING." "SEEING" features 70 exhibits, 40 of which are new, that explore all aspects of our fascinating sense of sight. For more information, visit:


My wife hates cockroaches...not that we have any in our house. In fact, I have never seen a cockroach in the 10 years we have lived in our house. However, my wife is still disgusted with these creatures.

Many people dislike cockroaches and use strong poisons to get rid of these pests. New research suggests there may be a natural, safe way to ward off cockroaches: the catnip plant. Although the intoxicating effects of catnip on cats are well known, there is evidence that chemicals in catnip repel some insects.

Researchers in the Department of Entomology at Iowa State University isolated the essential oil and two chemicals found in catnip and tested the ability of these solutions to repel cockroaches. One half of a piece of paper was soaked with either catnip essential oil, Z,E-nepetalactone or E,Z-nepetalactone and the other half of the paper (the "control" side) was treated with the solutions used to dissolve the catnip chemicals. A cockroach was then placed in the middle of the paper and the amount of time each insect spent on each paper half was measured.

In all tests, the cockroaches spent significantly LESS time on the paper side that was treated with the catnip chemicals. There was no difference in the amount of time the cockroaches spent on either side if their antennae were removed. The results with the antennae-less cockroaches indicate that these insects used their chemical sensing abilities to avoid the catnip.

It is possible that new products based on catnip could be developed to control cockroaches. These products may be safer than traditional pesticides, especially in areas such as schools, kitchens and hospitals.

Although you may be able to use catnip to repel cockroaches, you may have another problem...what are you going to do with all the cats that catnip attracts?

Reference: Peterson, C.J., Nemetz, L.T., Jones, L.M. and Coats, J.B. Behavioral activity of catnip (Lamiaceae) essential oil components to the German cockroach (Blattodea: Blattellidae). J. Econ. Entomology, 95:377-380, 2002.

For more information about the cockroach, read "The Compleat Cockroach: A Comprehensive Guide to the Most Despised (And Least Understood) Creature on Earth" by David George Gordon, Berkeley (CA): Ten Speed Press, 1996, ISBN: 0898158532.


A. "Art Works in Mental Health" is a new exhibit that opened last month at Dali Universe in London, England. The show will be traveling to Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds and Cardiff this summer.

B. "In Search of Sleep" is the cover article of the July 15, 2002 issue of Newsweek magazine.

C. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has released new curriculum supplements about the brain, environmental health, and oral health. These supplements are FREE to teachers. For more information and how to order this material, see:


A. At the 2002 USA Memory Championship, Scott Hagwood correctly matched 97 of 99 faces and names after spending 15 minutes studying the pairs.

B. Another word for sneezing is "sternutation."

C. In the US, 10% of children and adolescents suffer from mental illness severe enough to cause impairment. However, only 20% of these children and adolescents receive mental health services. (Source:

D. The annual salary range for a neurologist is $106,000 to $199,701. The annual salary range for a psychiatrist is $110,000 to $152,008. (Source: Merritt Hawkins

E. Approximately 160 million people in the US wear glasses or contact lenses. (Source: Walker, T.C. and Miller, R.K. 2001 Health Care Business Market Research Handbook, fifth edition, Norcross (GA): Richard K. Miller & Associates, Inc., 2001.)


To remove yourself from this mailing list and stop your subscription to the Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter, send e-mail to Dr. Eric H. Chudler at:

Your comments and suggestions about this newsletter and the "Neuroscience for Kids" web site are always welcome. If there are any special topics that you would like to see on the web site, just let me know.


Eric H. Chudler, Ph.D.

"Neuroscience for Kids" is supported by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from the National Center of Research Resources.